HAYTI - The Charleston Bluejays were their own worse enemy on Friday night as the Bluejays fell on the road 14-8 to the Hayti Indians.
Charleston committed four costly turnovers in the contest and committed six back-breaking penalties for 70 yards.
"We just shot ourselves in the foot tonight," said Charleston head coach Al Marshall. "We would have some big plays on offense and we would either have a penalty or commit a turnover. It is frustrating but we have a lot of players banged up and we are using some kids that we are not quite comfortable with."
The Bluejays trailed 14-8 to start the fourth quarter and were driving deep into Indian territory. Charleston quarterback Justin Clark completed a 33-yard completion to a leaping Jamarcus Williams who snagged the pass away from two Hayti defenders and the Bluejays had the football on the Indian 6-yard line with 11:26 to play in the game.
The momentum gained by Charleston quickly vanished. On a first-down play, the Bluejays were penalized for a holding call. From the 17-yard line, Charleston ran an option play with Clark running toward the right side of the field.
Running back Markel Murray was trailing Clark waiting for the pitch. Clark saw that a Hayti defender was closing fast so he decided to pitch back to Murray.
Defensive end Cody Chandler of Hayti dove and batted the pitch down and the Indians recovered spoiling a golden opportunity for the Bluejays.
"I am very impressed with our defense," said Hayti head coach David Gilmore. "To hold Caruthersville to six points last week and to hold down a very explosive Charleston team to eight points tonight, is quite an accomplishment. Our defense won the game for us. The offense kind of struggled tonight but our defense stepped up. Hopefully the old saying 'defense wins championships' holds true for this team."
Hayti jumped on the Bluejays on their first series of the game, as wideout Josh Gilyard ran a fly sweep off 6-foot-6, 265-pound right tackle William Cooper and scampered 61 yards for the touchdown at 7:45 of the first quarter.
The Bluejays had problems in the first half stopping the Indians' fly sweeps in the shotgun spread formation. Hayti's receivers gained 128 yards on the ground in the half.
"They tricked us early on in the game," said Marshall. "They ran some misdirection at us and with our troops being down, they took advantage. I am proud of my guys though. They never quit out there and played hard-nosed Bluejay football."
Hayti was effective on the ground in the first half against Charleston and chewed up much of the clock. The Indians extended their lead to 14, as Vaughn scored his second touchdown of the half with a 2-yard run at 10:08 of the second quarter.
"We wanted to mix it up tonight," said Gilmore. "We were in power formations and the spread in the first half just to see how they would react. We made some crucial fourth-down conversions on our two scoring drives that gave our kids the confidence up front that we could control the offensive line of scrimmage."
The Bluejays used a little trickery of their own to start the second half. Running back Jerquawn Sherrell was stood up behind the line of scrimmage by a host of Indian defenders at the Hayti 21-yard line.
Sherrell quickly found Clark watching the play and pitched the football. Clark seized upon Hayti's confusion and raced 20 yards down to the one. Sherrell scored on the next play and after the two-point conversion, Hayti led 14-8 at 8:50 of the third quarter.
Hayti never let Charleston sniff the end zone after the turnover by Clark. The Indians, however, let the Bluejays have a last gasp of life with a minute remaining in the game.
After Charleston failed to convert on a fourth-down play on their own 23-
yard line with 1:47 to play in the contest, Hayti only needed to not fumble and the game was in hand.
Running back Tremayne Pickens broke through some Charleston defenders and raced to what appeared to be a score. However, Pickens was stripped of the football on the five and the Bluejays recovered with a minute to play.
The excitement of a last ditch comeback for Charleston was displaced on the first play after the turnover as Clark heaved a pass down the middle of the field to a streaking Matt Medlock.
Hayti had double coverage and the football was tipped into the arms of Shawn Jones for his second interception of the night.
"We had a simple plan on defense and that was to keep everybody in front of us," said Hayti head coach David Gilmore. "They have some athletic receivers and we just did not want to get beat deep. We kind of bracketed their receivers and I think the kids did a great job. This was a big win for us against a very good team."
Clark threw for 116 yards for the Bluejays but had his first and last pass picked off by the Indians.
Sherrell got going in the second half and finished with 15 carries for 84 yards to lead Charleston.
Williams had five receptions for 55 yards before leaving the game with a ankle injury.
Pickens was a workhorse for the Indians gaining 72 yards on 29 carries, had one reception for 23 yards and led Hayti with 10 tackles on defense.
Hayti (4-1) will battle Mt. View Liberty on the road Friday at 7 p.m.
Charleston (2-2) will have another tough test on the road Friday night as they will face the Dexter Bearcats (4-1).